The hardest part for investors betting on a coronavirus vaccine is putting all the pieces together. There are more than 400 human trials underway right now. Almost every pharma player is involved in one or more. The list of COVID-19 vaccine plays that we at Insider Financial have covered includes Moderna, Vaxart, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, VBI Vaccines, Tonix Pharmaceuticals, Heat Biologics, Sorrento Therapeutics, and many others. While all of these have huge potential and our readers and subscribers are all sitting on big gains since we initiated coverage on ALL of them, the biggest hurdle these vaccine players face is not in developing the vaccine but in manufacturing hundreds of millions of doses. The one COVID-19 vaccine player that doesn’t have this issue is IBIO stock.
Trying to figure all of this out is like being a detective. Companies are keeping things close to the vest as competitors are all looking to steal trade secrets and be the first over the finish line. After all, tens of billions of dollars are at stake. As we dug deeper, there was a lot we found out about IBIO stock and we keep liking what we see.
About IBIO Stock
First up, here’s a little background on IBIO stock for those not familiar with the company. iBio is a global leader in plant-based biologics manufacturing. Its FastPharming System™ combines vertical farming, automated hydroponics, and glycan engineering technologies to rapidly deliver gram quantities of high-quality monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, bioinks, and other proteins. The Company’s subsidiary, iBio CDMO LLC, provides FastPharming Contract Development and Manufacturing Services via its 130,000 square foot facility in Bryan, Texas.
Originally built in 2010 with funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), iBio’s FastPharming Facility was part of the “Blue Angel” initiative to establish factories capable of rapid delivery of medical countermeasures in response to a disease pandemic. iBio’s FastGlycaneering Development Service™ includes an array of new glycosylation technologies for engineering high-performance recombinant proteins. Additionally, iBio is developing proprietary products which include IBIO-100 for the treatment of fibrotic diseases and IBIO-200, a COVID-19 vaccine.
IBIO Stock A Big Winner
We first covered IBIO stock back in April when shares were trading just above $.80 apiece. We said at the time:
While other coronavirus stocks have been making big moves in April, iBio Stock (NYSEAMERICAN:IBIO) has been stuck trading just under the $1 level. With Aytu Bioscience Inc, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and Moderna Inc having just made huge moves, IBIO stock looks to be the next coronavirus play to make a big move.
While IBIO stock delivered big gains and ran to $7, it has since dropped back down. However, we believe new highs are coming after putting all the pieces together.
Partnership With IDRI
First, IBIO stock is working with IDRI to advance its COVID-19 vaccine. IDRI focuses on antigen discovery and development, adjuvant formulation and delivery, therapeutic molecule discovery and development, and biomarker discovery for diagnostics. Founded in 1993, IDRI has 125 employees headquartered in Seattle with nearly 100 partners/collaborators around the world.
In looking closer at IDRI, you see that there’s big funding behind it with none other the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pumping money in. The Gates Foundation is backed by multi-billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett with over $50 billion in its endowment. Among some of the grants, IDRI has received include $15 million for leishmaniasis, another $7 million for leishmaniasis, $29.9 million for malaria vaccines, and $9.5 million for IDRI’s Global Health Vaccine Center of Innovation, or GHVCI. Bill Gates is desperate to have his name associated with whoever comes up with a vaccine and he’s willing to throw his money around to make sure he gets some credit.
With IDRI, IBIO has signed two Master Services Agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding in support of iBio’s SARS-CoV-2 Virus-Like Particle vaccine development. Under the MSAs, IDRI will support pre-clinical development and provide clinical trial oversight, while iBio will provide process development and manufacturing services to IDRI, as needed. Additionally, the MoU calls for iBio and IDRI to establish a separate, additional agreement within the next 60 days if the Company opts to include one of IDRI’s novel adjuvants in the COVID-19 vaccine development program (“IBIO-200”). The MSAs and the MoU integrate IDRI into iBio’s collaboration with the Texas A&M University System to create a strong partnership that brings deep experience and advanced technologies and capabilities to the task of moving IBIO-200 into the clinic. Corey Casper, M.D., MPH, Chief Executive Officer of the IDRI and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Global Health at the University of Washington, said:
“We are excited to be a partner in the development of IBIO-200. Combining iBio’s VLP antigen with an IDRI adjuvant provides for promising safety and efficacy characteristics, and importantly, the ready ability to scale-up manufacturing to help meet the projected global demand for a suitable vaccine.”
BARDA And IBIO Stock
What’s interesting about the collaboration with IDRI is how it all came about for IBIO stock. In last week’s interview with The Hill, CEO Tom Isett explained how the partnership came about because of BARDA.
But because of all the funding that BARDA had done, I had said ,“hey, do you have any ideas on people that you have worked with? Or are there any interesting adjuvants out there because we’d like to perform this study?” And so, they recommended that we reach out to folks at the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle. And the next day we did, and I thankfully, Dr Corey Casper there — a brilliant scientist and leader in the field — took our call, and then, you know, we’ve been working with them since and the great part was, they had these wonderful adjuvant technologies and tremendous clinical experience, clinical development experience. So, two great things. We’re thankful to BARDA for recommending that, thankful to the folks at IDRI they’re called, that’s the acronym. And then also, too, is we’re trying to get ready for hopefully moving into human clinical trials. We had the folks at IBM also with their clinical trials management software. They said,“Hey, we kind of like what you’re doing” And they’ve given us a little bit of help there in that regard, too. So, you know, really, really thankful to the U. S. government and BARDA in particular for that marriage that they helped make.
BARDA is a really big deal and shows that IBIO has a working relationship. BARDA has gained prominence since the new coronavirus spread throughout the United States. BARDA was created in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, but the agency is turning its attention to the pandemic. The CARES Act, which was passed in March, included $3.5 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services created to fight bioterrorism and pandemic diseases.
IBIO Manufacturing Capabilities
The challenges related to COVID-19 are numerous. One of the biggest challenges is once a vaccine is found, how will that vaccine be manufactured in mass quantities. This is where IBIO stock comes into play. iBio estimates that the company could make about 500 million doses of high-quality products annually at its Texas facility. Tom Isett, Co-Chairman & CEO of iBio, said:
“That scalability links directly to the modular technology behind our FastPharming Manufacturing System, which uses a relative of the tobacco plant as the ‘bioreactor’ to produce biopharmaceuticals. So, the amount of product generated by a single plant is consistent from research- to commercial-scale, and scale-up is achieved by simply growing thousands more plants within our 130,000 square foot facility. This is real innovation in the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals, thus our significant synergy with the NIIMBL community.”
Where has the US government chosen to mass-produce a COVID-19 vaccine?
The federal government has reserved a high-tech bio-manufacturing facility at Texas A&M University for mass production of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a program discussed Monday by President Donald Trump.
Where is IBIO’s manufacturing facility?
You guessed it – Texas A&M University!
Who is coordinating the manufacturing?
If you guessed BARDA, you are correct again!
The Texas A&M System’s CIADM was one of three centers developed in the U.S. in response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic by BARDA.
IBIO Deal With IBM
In June, IBM selected iBio to receive 18 months of use of the IBM Clinical Development (ICD) solution, free-of-charge. IBM Watson Health recently began offering its ICD solution to eligible trial sponsor organizations as part of its efforts to help support the medical community to address the COVID-19 pandemic. IBM Watson Health received interest in the offering from numerous hospitals, sponsors, contract research organizations, and academic institutions, and is currently enabling 15 COVID-19 disease trials. We said last month that this deal was a game-changer and which helped drive IBIO stock over $7.
IBIO stock has positioned itself to be a key COVID-19 vaccine player whether it delivers a vaccine in collaboration with IDRI or manufactures another company’s COVID-19 vaccine at its FastPharming Facility. When you look at the multi-billion-dollar market caps of Moderna, Novovax, and Inovio, shares of IBIO stock are a bargain at current levels. Furthermore, with the company’s relationship with the Gates Foundation and BARDA, it would not surprise us to see IBIO get funding from Bill Gates or from Operation Warp Speed. We like how CEO Tom Isett has positioned the company and believe IBIO stock is a discount entry opportunity at these levels.
As always, good luck to all (except the shorts)!
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Disclosure: We have no position in NYSEMKT:IBIO or any of the securities mentioned. We wrote this article ourselves and it expresses our own opinions. We are not receiving compensation for it. We have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. Insider Financial is not an investment advisor and does not provide investment advice. Always do your own research and make your own investment decisions. This article is not a solicitation or recommendation to buy, sell, or hold securities. This article is meant for informational and educational purposes only and does not provide investment advice.